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12th Biennale of Sydney

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)


26 May to 30 July 2000


Doug Aitken, Gordon Bennett, Destiny Deacon, Andreas Gursky, Bill Hammond, Bill Henson, Seydou Keita, Bodys Isek Kingelez, Yayoi Kusama, Artists from Maningrida, Artists from Arnhem Land, John Mawurndjul, Mariko Mori, Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri, Bruce Nauman, Shirin Neshat, Chris Ofili, Yoko Ono, Lisa Reihana, Gerhard Richter, Pipilotti Rist, Luc Tuymans, Adriana Varejao, Jeff Wall, Gillian Wearing

Selection Panel:

Fumio Nanjo, Louise Neri, Hetti Perkins, Sir Nicholas Serota, Robert Storr, Harald Szeeman, Nick Waterlow OAM

about the exhibition

The Biennale of Sydney is a recurrent international exhibition that was first shown in 1973 at the Sydney Opera House. Since that time it has played a vital role in bringing the work of international artists to Australian audiences, and placing the work of Australian artists within a global context.

In 2000, the 12th Biennale of Sydney focused on artists who made a significant impact on ideas and attitudes in the lead up to the new millenium, through their will to transform both self and the world through the creative process. For the first time, there was no single Artistic Director, but a panel of leading contemporary art figures. This was also the first time that the MCA devoted all its galleries to the exhibition across four floors.

The 12th Biennale of Sydney was specifically intended to mark the end of an era by concentrating on fewer artists whose works have stood the test of time. The result was a remarkable range of artists distinguished by their radical thinking and innovative practice. Spanning a number of decades, the exhibition aimed to demonstrate the continuity of work and ideas at the end of the century and millennium.

Biennale artists who were exhibited at the MCA included Gerhard Richter, a revered German painter; Chris Ofili, whose bold, joyous and decorative paintings incorporated elephant dung; Yayoi Kusama, who created the illusion of spatial infinity with a room full of dots and mirrors; Australian artist Gordon Bennett, whose paintings looked at the representation of Aboriginality and focus on the fluidity of identity; Mariko Mori, a Japanese artist who costumed, styled and starred in her own fantasy photographs; African artist Bodys Isek Kingelez, who fabricated fantastical architectural follies from recycled packaging; and German artist Andreas Gursky, whose hyperreal colour photographs of people and places were at once extraordinarily detailed and panoramic.